Funding to enable innovative research
September 21, 2022
The Government of Canada, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), has announced $64 million in funding to support research infrastructure through the John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). Five projects at Queen’s will receive close to $700,000 to advance innovative research projects that will have an impact on human health, communications technologies, and renewable materials.
"Canada is world-renowned for our state-of-the-art institutions and talented researchers pushing the boundaries of knowledge," says The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. "Through this Fund, our government is strengthening our leadership and competitive advantage by supporting Canadians to pursue discoveries, overcome challenges and innovate to make a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable future for all."
The JELF helps universities more competitively recruit and retain outstanding researchers by providing funds needed to acquire the labs, equipment, and facilities.
"Cutting-edge research requires the right infrastructure and tools," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "Thanks to the CFI, researchers at Queen’s can acquire the resources they need to accelerate their programs and fuel discovery and innovation that will have an impact on Canadians."
Learn more about the Queen’s projects:
Fernanda De Felice (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences; Psychiatry)
Dr. De Felice’s project "Testing the potential of extracellular vesicles to deliver therapeutics and to develop biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease" will help address an urgent need to develop inexpensive, non-invasive diagnostics and efficient treatments to help Canada’s aging population, who are experiencing an increase in Alzheimer’s disease. Her team will investigate the role of irisin, a novel hormone boosted by physical exercise, in memory processes and if increasing it can reproduce or even boost the beneficial actions of exercise in memory. Dr. De Felice also aims to investigate vesicles, cells that originate in the brain and are carried into the body’s circulation, and to develop a simple approach for identifying if they are carrying disease biomarkers.
Vera Vine (Psychology)
Dr. Vine’s project "Interoception as a mechanism of adolescents’ emotional development" will help address the urgent need to discover the risk mechanisms that drive the co-occurrence of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts among adolescents. Adolescence is a period of rapid emotional change when individuals often have a hard time figuring out what they feel while they are still developing emotion awareness. Dr. Vine’s team will test a promising theory that adolescents develop emotion awareness by having a strong connection between body and mind, or interoception. Her project will examine how interoception helps adolescents develop emotion awareness and how this process is affected by social environments. It will also teach us more about where emotions come from and ultimately lead to better public programs to protect youth from adversity and promote mental health.
Kevin De France (Chemical Engineering)
Dr. De France’s project "Development of sustainable cellulose- and protein-based building blocks for the fabrication of functional materials" will explore alternatives that could replace traditional plastic-based products. Plastics are generally produced from non-renewable petroleum-based sources, which lead to increased levels of waste and environmental pollution in their production and decomposition. His team will investigate the structure-property-function relationships between the natural building blocks of cellulose and protein, both abundant raw materials, and the materials fabricated from them. The successful completion of Dr. De France’s project will result in the promotion of clean technology for various applications in fields spanning countless sectors that impact everyday life.
Alexander Tait (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Dr. Tait’s project "Quantum internet to the home with cryogenic silicon photonics" will develop key building blocks from entangled photo light sources and single-photon detectors needed to access the more secure quantum internets. Quantum communication technologies promise a high value but also a high price point. Global investments in quantum technologies tend to focus on its applications and cyber security features for corporate and government networks, yet the general population would also benefit as our personal and financial data increasingly moves to the internet. A significant barrier for regular consumers to access these networks is the cost of needed hardware. Dr. Tait’s team will develop single-photon technologies that can be manufactured in existing silicon foundries, as opposed to using specialized semiconductor platforms. This innovation will make quantum internet products more accessible and affordable while presenting commercialization and export opportunities for Canada.
Sunita Mathur (Rehabilitation Therapy)
Dr. Mathur’s project "Detecting and mitigating sarcopenia in chronic disease" will help combat a debilitating disease increasingly affecting Canada’s aging population that causes muscle wasting and muscle weakness. Her team will focus on developing new ways to detect sarcopenia and test novel exercise programs to mitigate the disease through utilizing lab-based measurements and clinical setting methods for both in-person and virtual care. Dr. Mathur intends to establish a Muscle Imaging and Performance Lab at Queen’s that will lead the study of sarcopenia globally and advance the evidence for virtual care to make a direct impact on the healthcare of Canadians.
To learn more about the Canada Foundation for Innovation and other funded projects, please visit their website.